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USDA Rural Development grants $941,000 to Red Cloud Indian School

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PINE RIDGE, S.D. – Red Cloud Indian School has received $941,000 in federal funds from the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development. Elsie M. Meeks, state director of USDA Rural Development in South Dakota, announced the partnership Nov. 20 as part of an onsite visit with Tim Potts, area director, and members of the administration at Red Cloud.

The funds, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that President Barack Obama signed into law, will allow Red Cloud to move forward with much-needed improvements for the school, located on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southwest South Dakota.

“Rural Development has been a very important partner in the continued work and growth of our school,” said Fr. Peter Klink SJ, president of Red Cloud. “We are so grateful for the commitment that Elsie Meeks, Tim Potts and the entire staff of USDA Rural Development have made not just to educating the Lakota youth of the Pine Ridge Reservation, but to our entire Black Hills community.”

“With these funds, Red Cloud will be able to continue to recruit teachers from across the region to share their knowledge and expertise with the students that fill our classrooms,” said Bob Brave Heart Sr., superintendent of schools. “And, these students will have a healthy, safe place to learn and grow because of these funds. We are honored to have USDA Rural Development as a partner in our continued efforts.”

The federal funds will aid three distinct projects at Red Cloud:

Teacher Housing

Funded with a direct loan of $300,000 from USDA Rural Development ARRA Community Facility and leveraged with a contribution of $70,000 from Red Cloud, five units of Governor’s Housing from the South Dakota Housing Development Authority will be acquired to help Red Cloud continue to recruit and retain the best and brightest teachers in the region. Three of the 1,200-square-foot homes will be placed on permanent foundation at the Red Cloud campus, and two additional units will be placed at Our Lady of Lourdes Elementary School, near Porcupine, S.D. The five homes will replace trailers that date back to 1970, which were not handicapped accessible and, in many cases, had severe water leaks.

Heating and Cooling System

Funded with a direct loan of $100,000 from USDA Rural Development ARRA Community Facility, grant funds of $100,000 and leveraged with an applicant contribution of $46,248 and a private donation of $100,000, the new heating and cooling system for Red Cloud High School will be energy efficient, and will help the school eliminate the current heating system. The present system at the school is a coal boiler that was altered to burn oil. With the new installation, Red Cloud hopes to save 50 – 65 percent of their annual heating costs. The new system will also provide air conditioning.

Sewer Lift Station

Funded from South Dakota’s regular allocation of Water and Waste Disposal Funds of $215,000 and grant funds of $226,000, Red Cloud’s current sewer lift station will be rehabilitated and improved, removing hazardous waste from the area. The upgrades will assist the school in creating a cleaner, safer environment for the 600 Lakota students who attend the school daily.

USDA Rural Development has eight offices in the state of South Dakota that assist rural communities. Office locations include a state office in Huron, along with area offices in Aberdeen, Mitchell, Pierre, Rapid City, Sioux Falls, Watertown and Yankton. USDA Rural Development’s mission is to increase economic opportunities and improve the quality of life for rural residents. The organization fosters growth in homeownership, finances and business development, and supports the creation of critical community and technology infrastructure.

More information on rural programs is available at a local USDA Rural Development Office, or by visiting the Web site.